[WATCH] ‘Borrowed Time’: Pixar animators make own movie to compete against ‘Piper’ at Oscars

The Oscar race for Best Animated Short is heating up as “Piper,” an official Pixar film contends against one made by two of its in-house animators in their spare time. “Borrowed Time” went viral on Vimeo last month and has already been played over eight million times as viewers responded emotionally to the exquisite animation of a sheriff returning to the scene of a tragedy from his youth that occurred on a panoramic bluff. While the film is no longer available, watch the featurette about the making of the movie above.

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Directed by one-time NYU classmates Andrew Coates and Lou Hamou-Lhadj, who have worked on such Oscar-winning Pixar fare as “Inside Out,” this nearly seven-minute adult Western pays tribute to the iconic movie cowboy. As Hamou-Lhadj  told Indiewire, “We wanted to caricature the deputy and looked at Lee Van Cleef, Daniel Day-Lewis and Clint Eastwood. He’s the shell of a man he used to be with gaunt features and an almost skull-like appearance, especially with down lighting on his face.”

As the broken man returns at twilight to the site of that long ago incident that has haunted him his entire life, the filmmakers’ goal was to convey a feeling of forgiveness. With the story evolving over five years of planning, preparation and execution, they decided ambition to focus on closure, “owning up to the mistakes you’ve made or at least facing the mistakes you’ve made and finding the strength to move on,” as Coats explained to Indiewire.

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“Borrowed Time” is not a Pixar production; rather the pair worked on evenings, weekends and holidays. This summer the celebrated animation house released “Piper,” another frontrunner in the race. This six-minute film follows a young bird learning to gather food on the seashore. It wowed audiences with its technological advances when it screened before each showing of “Finding Dory.” Pixar’s last of its three wins for Best Animated Short was back in 2001 with “For the Birds. Prior to that it had prevailed with “Tin Toy” (1988) and “Geri’s Game” (1997)

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